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Unemployment down to 3.7% in Central Minnesota

ALSO: Lewis and Clark water plans look grim; save your power until after 7 p.m.; water diversion plan OK’d; big fish caught, uncaught; and more.

May unemployment in Central Minnesota dropped below 4 percent. Vicki Ikeogu of the St. Cloud Daily Times writes that the Department of Employment and Economic Development released a report Tuesday stating Central Minnesota’s unemployment rate fell to 3.7 percent, higher than the state unemployment rate of 3.3 percent but below the national rate of 4.5 percent. Wright, Stearns and Sherburne counties have jobless rates of 3.2 percent, 3.3 percent and 3.4 percent respectively while Benton, Mille Lacs, Morrison and Todd counties were at 3.7 percent, 4.1 percent, 4.7 percent and 3.6 percent, respectively. The St. Cloud metropolitan statistical area — Benton and Stearns counties — had a jobless rate of 3.3 percent.

Things are looking grim for plans to continue the Lewis and Clark Regional Water System from Adrian and Worthington. Julie Buntjer of the Worthington Daily Globe writes that officials had hoped the Legislature would OK an $11.5 million advance to help fund the final phase of the project. Now a special session is the only way this might happen, and that doesn’t appear likely. Worthington Public Utilities General Manager Scott Hain said, “I personally think the chances are pretty slim that there’s going to be a special (session), but they’ve proven me wrong before.” The project currently has $9 million from the Federal Bureau of Reclamation to put toward the $20.5 million project. 

You know it’s summer when this call comes out: Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, Heartland Power Cooperative and Dairyland Power Cooperative issued peak alerts due to high electricity demands though out the Midwest. The Austin Daily Herald says customers should wait until after 7 p.m. to use unnecessary electric power.

Minnesota – land to several counties that border the Great Lakes watershed, are keeping an eye on this decision: the Great Lakes states’ governors Tuesday approved a plan to pump Lake Michigan water just outside the Great Lakes watershed to Waukesha, Wisconsin. John Myers of the Duluth News Tribune reports that the 17-mile diversion will be closely monitored: Waukesha can pump an average of 8.2 million gallons a day; it can only use the water in the existing city and not areas of future growth; all the water will be returned to Lake Michigan through a natural river after being treated in the city’s sewage treatment plant with higher monitoring and water quality standards. For his part, Gov. Mark Dayton said that after several modifications, the “diversion project will provide environmental benefits to the region, and have virtually no impact on our treasured Great Lakes.”

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Two big fish were caught, photographed and released recently. Northland Outdoors reports that Cindy Pawlowski of Frazee caught and released a lake sturgeon on May 8 that was 62 7/8 inches long with a 29-inch girth on the Rainy River in Koochiching County. Steven DeMars of Stillwater caught and released a flathead catfish on May 8 in the St. Croix River in Washington County that was 47 inches long with a 30-inch girth. Both are records.

The treasurer of a Brainerd Cub Scout troop said she and her husband were having financial troubles, and that prompted her to steal $2,500 from the troop’s account. The Northland News Service writes that the woman was charged with two counts of felony theft by the Crow Wing County Attorney’s Office. She told investigators she intended to pay the money back. The Boy Scouts of America Central Minnesota Council recommends a two-signature system to ensure that at least two people are reviewing expenses.

Counterfeit cash has turned up at a child’s Kool-Aid stand in Superior, Wisconsin. The Superior Telegram reports that fake $20 bills and a few $10 bills have been floating around, including this bit of nefarious callousness: “A man reportedly asked a young girl for change from her Kool-Aid stand Sunday in Lake Nebagamon and gave her counterfeit money in exchange, according to Douglas County Sheriff’s Office records.” Truly, there is no honor among thieves.

Austin High School officials are fed up with deliveries, no matter how freaky fast they may be. Jora Bothun of the Austin Daily Herald writes that administrators are clamping down on outside lunch deliveries after they have become a distraction. While students calling restaurants during class to order food to be delivered during lunch isn’t new, the ability to order food through apps, texts, emails and other technology has made it a common distraction. The school has never allowed students to order meals, but teachers noticed students asking to go to the bathroom when they were actually going to pick up an ordered lunch. 

This weekend will be a bad time to be a boozer on a boat in Beltrami County. The Bemidji Pioneer reports that the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office will increase patrols for intoxicated boaters during Operation Dry Water this weekend. In Minnesota, it is illegal to operate a vessel with a blood alcohol concentration level of .08 or higher.